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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JULY 31, 2002
1:18 AM
CONTACT:  R2K Legal Collective
Kris Hermes, R2K Legal Collective (610) 591-5996
Camilo Viveiros, RNC Defendant (508) 496-0907
Continued Prosecution and Harrassment of Activists
Two Years After Mass Arrests at RNC Protests
 
PHILADELPHIA - July 31 - On August 1, two years after Philadelphia's breach of civil rights during the Republican National Convention (RNC) protests, the city continues to maliciously prosecute those that chose to speak out about societal and political problems like excessive incarceration and a "justice" system disproportionately affecting people of color and the poor. Additionally, the city has used civil suits filed against it to offensively employ tactics of harassment and privacy invasion. This is accomplished in large part by an insurance policy given to the city by RNC ad-hoc host committee Philadelphia 2000, covering them for violence and misconduct.

The Timoney-3 case is a clear example of the city's zeal to over-prosecute Despite over 95% of the hundreds of cases stemming from the RNC protests having been thrown out of court, the city of Philadelphia is vigorously prosecuting some of the last and most significant cases. One of the more high profile cases involves then-Police Commissioner John Timoney accusing three young men of violent behavior. Although many of their charges, including felonies, were thrown out in 2001, the Philadelphia District Attorney (DA) recently won an appeal that reinstated them. The three defendants are due to go to trial on October 9, 2002 in Common Pleas Court. One of the defendants, Camilo Viveiros, is a low-income housing activist working mainly with elderly and disabled tenants (further info below). "The money that has been spent prosecuting frivolous cases including my own," says Viveiros, "is money being taken from worthy and much-needed community based programs in Philadelphia."

City takes advantage of insurance policy covering it for host of civil rights violations The Philadelphia Daily News (PDN) reported on Feb. 15, 2001 that Philadelphia 2000-headed by David L. Cohen-purchased an insurance policy for the city in order to protect them from various civil rights violations. According to FEC filings, the insurance policy was purchased for $777,411 and was funded in part from a donation by Philadelphia Newspapers, Inc. (owners of the Inquirer and the Daily News) to Philadelphia 2000 for over $200,000. The umbrella policy purchased from American International Group (AIG) covers an undisclosed amount of legal fees currently being used by the city in its defense of civil suits. Estimates on fees billed to date are well over $2 million. A policy rider purchased from Lexington Insurance of Boston, MA has liability limits of $3 million covering the city for such things as assault and battery, false arrest, wrongful detention, and malicious prosecution (for policy text see below). "Knowing that they were not liable, the police and city of Philadelphia conspired to suspend the rights of thousands of people during a national political campaign," claims Danielle Redden of R2K Legal.

City's law firm racks up millions in legal fees while harassing activists and organizations across the country One of Philadelphia's most prestigious law firms, Hangley, Aronchick, Segal & Pudlin, is defending the city against civil suits for rights violations. Due to the firm's financial and human resources, they have been able to go on the offense despite their defensive position. Subpoenas and depositions used include demands to turnover computer hard drives, e-mail correspondence as well as membership lists of political organizations. People were questioned about prominent anarchist activists with no connection to the RNC protests. In an especially unusual move, the city's lawyers deposed legal council for the plaintiffs on the grounds that they co-conspired with their clients to disrupt the RNC. Organizations subpoenaed include the Ruckus Society; Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF); Kensington Welfare Rights Union; American Friends Services Committee (Quakers); and R2K Legal.

Possible puppet warehouse civil suit settlement The puppet warehouse civil suit is one of various suits brought against the city in the aftermath of the RNC protests. Of the over seventy people arrested in the preemptive warehouse raid, all had their charges dismissed. Filed on August 1, 2001, the suit involves twenty-four plaintiffs and makes claims of wrongful arrest, lack of due process and other rights violations. PDN reported on July 5, 2002 that, "the city is secretly trying to settle federal civil-rights lawsuits." According to court records uncovered by PDN, $72,000 is due to be awarded to two local organizations after deducting legal fees. Also reported by PDN is a "strict confidentiality agreement" to keep details of any settlement secret. "Despite settlement information recently being made public," says Kris Hermes of R2K Legal, "the city's desire for secrecy is yet another attempt to control the will of activists and shield any criticism of wrongdoing."

Information on camilo and support for his defense: http://www.friendsofcamilo.org.
A copy of the insurance policy purchased by Philadelphia 2000 for the city:
http://www.r2kphilly.org/r2klegal/ins-1stpolicy01.html
Philadelphia Daily News article with details on the city's insurance policy:
http://www.r2kphilly.org/media/pdn-021501.html

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